Remembering Lommel, Jessua, and More

Over the weekend, word began coursing through social media that Ulli Lommel had passed away at the age of seventy-three. Now Doris Kuhn confirms in the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the actor and director known to most for his work with Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Andy Warhol is gone. Having appeared in Russ Meyer’s Fanny Hill in 1964, Lommel began his collaboration with Fassbinder in the latter’s feature debut, Love Is Colder Than Death (1969; image above). Lommel produced and starred in Fassbinder’s Whitey (1971) and would be featured in Fassbinder's The American Soldier (1975), World on a Wire (1973), and Chinese Roulette (1976). In 1973, Fassbinder produced The Tenderness of Wolves, the second film Lommel would direct, written by and starring Kurt Raab. And this was the film that caught Warhol’s eye.

Lommel moved to the States in 1977 and began working with Warhol, who produced Lommel’s Cocaine Cowboys (1979) starring Jack Palance—Warhol appears as himself, and would again in Lommel's Blank Generation (1980), starring Richard Hell. Lommel’s big international hit followed almost immediately, The Boogeyman (1980), a poorly received horror movie that’d pretty much set the tone for the rest of his career, though he was able to work with the likes of Tony Curtis, Vera Miles, Donald Pleasance, and Klaus Kinski.

Libération was among the many French news outlets reporting on the passing of Alain Jessua at the age of eighty-five late last week. Jessua’s 1956 short film Léon la lune won the Prix Jean Vigo, his first feature, La vie à l'envers (1964), won the award for best first film in Venice, and The Killing Game (1967) shared a best screenplay award in Cannes. Jessua worked as an assistant director for Jacques Becker on Casque d'or (1952), with Max Ophüls on The Earrings of Madame de . . . (1953) and Lola Montès (1955), and with Marcel Carné on Wasteland (1960).

“The star of numerous Merchant-Ivory films, Indian actor Shashi Kapoor has died after a prolonged illness,” reports Patrick Frater for Variety. “Kapoor was one of the few Indian actors who straddled the cinemas of India and the West. . . . Kapoor’s association with the James Ivory-Ismail Merchant team began in 1963 with The Householder and continued with Shakespeare-Wallah (1965), Bombay Talkie (1970), and In Custody (1994), which was also his last major film role. . . . Kapoor also formed an enormously successful on-screen partnership with superstar Amitabh Bachchan, with whom he acted in blockbusters including Deewar (1975), Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Trishul (1978), and Namak Halaal (1982).” He was seventy-nine.

“Jim Nabors, a comic actor who found fame in the role of the amiable bumpkin Gomer Pyle in two hit television shows of the 1960s while pursuing a second career as a popular singer with a booming baritone voice, died on Thursday,” reports Richard Severo in the New York Times. “Mr. Nabors played supporting roles in three movies starring his friend Burt Reynolds: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), Stroker Ace (1983), and Cannonball Run II (1984).” He was eighty-seven.

“Shadia, an Egyptian actress and singer who captivated millions for decades with memorable singles and iconic film roles but then vanished from public view and lived a life of seclusion, has died,” reports the AP. “Shadia has more than 100 films to her name and hundreds of singles in a career that stretches back to the late 1940s. She belongs to an era in the Egyptian entertainment industry that critics and entertainers call the ‘beautiful’ or ‘golden’ age—the decades between the 1940s and the 1970s—when some of Egypt's best movies were produced. With her silky and playful voice and perfectly honed acting skills, Shadia was at the heart of that era, winning a fan base across the entire Arab world.” She was eighty-six.

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